By Sanusi Mohammed
The above quoted statement coming from Hon. Tambuwal, Speaker of House of Representatives, finally sent President Jonathan packing to only God knows where next. Corrupt practices under his watch reached its peak with the downtrodden forced to near slavery in the midst of plenty. The cankerworm penetrated every segment of the PDP -style of governance which eventually consumed the Otuoke shoeless boy.
At the flag-off of his presidential campaign in Lagos on Thursday, January 8, Jonathan said, “I cannot crate people because they are corrupt”, ostensibly targeting General Buhari who as military Head of State was alleged to have master-minded the crating of Umaru Dikko, erstwhile minister for transport in the NPN administration of Shehu Shagari in 1983 from London to answer corruption charges in Nigeria. The James Bond style failed and Dikko remained a fugitive in the UK.
In a sharp response to Jonathan, a Civil Rights Activist and Senator-elect, Comrade Shehu Sani said, “Jonathan cannot crate people for corruption, but instead, sends people to early graves through sharp corrupt practices that has enmeshed his administration”.
Celebrating corruption, ostentatious living style, protecting identified crooks and pardon to criminals were the order of the day under Jonathan and open display of wealth suspected to have been stolen from public treasuries. Public utilities are grounded, security agencies have compromised in the race for accumulation of filthy wealth to the detriment of service delivery.
The expectation of Nigerians for good governance is dashed with the emergence of profligate politicians and itchy-fingered public officers that pauperize the citizenry to deepen poverty amidst stupendous national wealth.
The emergence of civil rule in 1999 ushered-in a start over again for a country brimming with immense talents and potentials but turned to a synonym for everything dirty-corruption at all levels (monumental and petty), human rights abuses, kidnapping, crude oil theft, drug peddling, extra-judicial killings, insurgency, fraudulent practices, immorality, environmental degradation, educational collapse, massive unemployment, power and, water shortages, hunger and homeless and hopelessness combined.
Public officials steal and squander billions of naira with reckless abandon. Nigeria has experienced three distinct leaderships under one political party, PDP in the last sixteen years with little to show for the mandate although through rigged elections.
From Obasanjo in 1999 to Goodluck Jonathan the squander and misuse of public funds goes on unabated with new scientific techniques introduced daily under suspected executive shield.
Addressing Nigeria’s socio-economic and political problems has been an uphill task for leaders since 1999 despite available resources. But the most traumatic is the Goodluck Jonathan presidency compounded by insincerity, pretence, insecurity, ethno-religious crises, kidnapping and official cover to treasury looters, fraudsters, subsidy criminals, certificated sycophancy and high class hypocrisy.
The country’s entire economy revolves around oil and gas which implies Nigeria has potentials of a prosperous economy. Crude oil accounts for nearly 90 percent of total generated revenue, yet the wealth has, not positively impacted on the economy as greed, insincerity, deceit, hunger, poverty, insecurity, malnutrition, disease are still endemic in the country.
What stares the people on the face is devastating lavish lifestyle of leaders from the presidency to ministers, governors, commissioners, lawmakers, local council executives, permanent secretaries, board members etc. While insurgents are busy killing, abducting, maiming and destroying houses, Jonathan and his appendages were busy wasting public funds to celebrate. The most disgusting is the extravagant salaries and allowances earned by national legislators while the governed languish in hunger, joblessness, bleak future, insecurity and virtually homeless.
The executive, legislature and judiciary seem to have connived in ripping-off the people. The government continuously shows that the interest of the larger population is not its priority. For instance, the whooping sum of N150billion annual budget was allocated to the National Assembly as Senators receive a quarterly pay of about N50 million each and House of Representative member about N40million in addition to un-accounted constituency projects allowances. Also, members of the various States legislatures join to rip the citizens. Ministers and State Commissioners receive fat monthly salaries, bogus allowances beyond the imagination of the toiling masses whose minimum monthly pay is fixed at a paltry N18, 000 with most States refusing even to pay. Yet, some governors siphon billions as security votes without tangible results.
Two years ago, N18billion was budgeted for just the maintenance of presidential fleet of aircrafts while another N1.9billion was for purchase of additional aircraft for the same presidential fleet. Before then, the presidential fleet was to be upgraded at N31.5billion. It should be noted that advanced economies the likes of Great Britain have no single official aircraft for its prime minister. British prime minister uses British national carrier like any other person for official and private travels. Chinese President uses the country’s national carrier for official and private travels. But in Nigeria, a presidential fleet is maintained despite the country’s beggar status to the advanced economies.
The Federal Government in 2013 approved N2.2billion for construction of a banquet hall in the presidential villa which evoked outrage of the citizens. Some years back, the World Bank grant of $8.54 billion facility for growth and poverty reduction was frittered away by official thieves while in 2008, Nigeria expended $16billion to reactivate power that has not improved.
Corruption has seriously affected the way money is allocated within the State budget, diverting expenditures away from less lucrative sectors as health and education to high kickback areas.
In 2012, an investigation by the House of Representatives Committee on Finance, Petroleum Upstream, Downstream and Gas Resources, revealed how NNPC under-remitted a whooping sum of N3.098trillion to the Federation Account between 2004 and 2011 under the watchful eyes of CBN and NEITI.
Two State Governors in the South-south reportedly bought Jet planes – a Bombardier Global 5000 worth $45.7million and Gulf Stream Jet at $45million, yet most villages in those states lack basic amenities for improved living standard. The incapacitated governor of Taraba state Danbaba Suntai, one of the most impoverished North-eastern States, was piloting his private aircraft and crashed in October 2012. He was flown abroad for proper medical attention still at government expense. He remains incapacitated.
Several ministers are said to own private jets and fleet of exotic cars and mansions in choice cities including foreign countries while the governed are confined to the enclave of poverty and fear and yet the Jonathan administration claims to be transforming the country which has now confined him to the dustbin of history.
Maintaining those private aircrafts remain a drain on public treasury which could be used to build and repair roads, improve healthcare, education, provide decent affordable houses, electricity and water but leaders prefer to drain than provide service.
Also, the Federal Capital Territory Authority (FCTA) is squandering N3billion to build official houses for principal officers of the National Assembly to comfort them for better corrupt practices and cover against the interest of the deprived electorates that are denied plots in the federal territory as a right. In the FCT, plots are the exclusive rights of fronts, high class prostitutes, Niger Delta militants, close associates of the president and his wife, celebrated politicians and other crooks that have drained the national economy.
Desert Herald publisher, Tukur Mamu alleged that Senator Bala Muhammed is the richest minister in Nigeria today and the FCDA Director of Treasury, Ibrahim Bomi, the richest civil servant in Nigeria through corruption. Nigerians expect the in-coming administration to thoroughly probe the out-going Jonathan administration to possibly retrieve stolen monies and properties at least for posterity. Not only that, several
promotions and appointments in the federal civil service need to be revisited while source(s) of funds for the Jonathan presidential campaign should be investigated as allegations are flying over the place that NNPC, FCDA and NIMASA handled the funding from public funds.
About 70 percent of the country’s income is expended on public officers and politicians who comprise less than one percent of a population of 167million that is not justifiable but remains so with no relief at sight.
According to former CBN Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi , “we cannot develop if we continue to expend over 70 percent of the nation’s revenue on government and leaving 30 percent for the people?” Ironically, the CBN budgets N300billion lacking oversight duties of the legislature needed to ensure transparency and accountability.
In 2011, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) placed Nigeria 156th out of 187 surveyed, saying that Nigeria records constant high economic growth rate that has not produced commensurate employment opportunities and reduction in poverty among citizens.
In 2012, MO Ibrahim Foundation Index for Africa Governance, ranked Nigeria 43 out 52 countries assessed. Nigeria’s overall score of 42.0 was no match to African average score of 51.9.
UK-based Economist Intelligence Unit ranked Nigeria as the worst place for a baby to be born in 2013. Nigeria is 80th out of 80 countries surveyed. Infant and maternal mortality is among the highest in the world. Expensive and frivolous lifestyles of leaders that glorify waste and financial recklessness are responsible for the horrible economic situation without sincere and courageous leader to put things in order.
Corruption has become a way of life in Nigeria and is watered to flourish by those mandated to fight it. Name any part of the Jonathan operational system that is not enmeshed in corruption, yet he claims fighting corruption. In fact, it appears exposing corrupt practice in the Jonathan administration is an unpardonable crime. Police pension scam, Oduahgate, FCT land scandals, Maku’s Good Governance Jamboree of extortion, NNPC kerosene subsidy diversion, NNPC unremitted $20billion, $10billion NNPC expenses on chartered aircraft, FCT CCTV
cameras scandal etc, are pointers. Jonathan’s claim to fight corruption lacks courage and exposes his incapacitation and connivance. He claims to lead a transparent administration with most of his aides rated the most corrupt but shielded. An allegation is not guilt but there is no process in the present administration to sift the innocent from the guilty.
In 2012, the administration shamelessly announced its intention to mark its own scorecard. The famously guilty were famously pardoned and awarded national honors with Jonathan swearing never to declare his assets publicly. I find it unbelievable that a whole CBN Governor could complain on a serving minister who misappropriated N3trillion and instead of her suspension for probe, the CBN Governor got suspended for blowing the whistle in an administration that romances corruption and stealing.
The end result from the brouhaha is that the social contract between the electorates and the elected broke down under Jonathan that necessitated his timely defeat. The PDP government is no more responsible to the plight of the people and that breeds security challenges and confidence lost which caused Jonathan his timely exit from power.
It further explains an embarrassing situation where the recurrent expenditure makes it impossible to fund capital projects for the people. Every public officer in Nigeria believes in himself rather than service. Service to a public officer has been redefined to mean an opportunity to leap from comfort to wealth that confirms the statement of Speaker Tambuwal that the body language of President Jonathan is CORRUPTION.
The Jonathan administration ought to understand that a credible government focuses on demonstrable service not mere propaganda or marking its scorecard for deceit. Let the administration trumpet its achievements to convince Nigerians than trumpeting a failed transformation agenda that transformed a selected few sycophants on a suicidal mission of re-election. Let it have the courage within its remaining few days to probe all the ministers as Obasanjo did in 2007. Let PDP be bold to call for a probe. If that is properly done, then either
Otuoke or jail waits for Jonathan, his ministers and most aides. Nigeria shall then be developed to a better place at minimum cost.
While in suspension, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi said.” Jonathan’s greatest failing is that he is surrounded by people who are extremely incompetent, extremely fraudulent and whom he trusts. I think everybody knows that NNPC is rotten. The kerosene subsidy money was swindled to pay for private jets…yachts… and expensive property in Beverly Hills and Switzerland”. Is that the administration Nigerians should support and even think of re-electing in 2015? God Almighty has saved Nigeria from further catastrophe and bye-bye to Jonathan and their PDP for now.